How to File a Home Insurance Claim

WRITTEN BY: Mark Romero


Filing a home insurance claim can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, some companies allow you do it online. Learn more about filing a home insurance claim, including how to and when you should file one.

When Should You File a Home Insurance Claim?

Before filing a homeowners insurance claim, you want to make sure the claim cost is more than the deductible and worth a potential premium increase. In addition, you don’t want to ask an adjuster to come to your house unless you know your claim is valid, as it may still get reported in your insurance history.

Also, it’s always good practice to check your policy to see what it covers and whether claims payout at cash value or replacement cost.

How long does it take to file a home insurance claim?

It doesn’t take long to file the actual claim, as most can be done online. Having the claim reviewed and paid out is another story, though. In Florida, for example, insurance companies have 90 days to notify you whether your claim was accepted or denied. Once it’s accepted, you are usually paid out within 20 days.

How is a home insurance claim paid?

Home insurance claims can be paid out in various ways, such as direct deposit, check, or mobile e-payment. If you have a mortgage, you and the lender receive payment from your insurance company. The lender puts the payment in escrow until you make the repairs to your home.

How long do home insurance claims stay on your record?

Typically, claims stay on your record for up to seven years. Insurance companies use the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report to determine the risk you hold in the future. The CLUE report contains all your claims for seven years.

What to do if your home insurance claim is denied

If your home insurance claims are denied, and you’re unsure what to do, contact a lawyer for advice. Appealing the claim yourself requires time and research on your part.

Steps To File a Home Insurance Claim

Once you determine your valid claim, you want to start filing a homeowners insurance claim. It’s always best to have a home inventory to make the process move flawlessly. When filing a homeowners insurance claim, you should do the following:

Document the Damage

It’s always important to document the damage for your home insurance claims. This gives you and the insurer a record of everything that needs replacing or repairing. There is no such thing as too many pictures, even from multiple angles. The more information you provide to the insurer, the faster the process goes.

File Your Claim Immediately 

Depending on your insurer, a homeowners insurance claim can be filed online. You can also call your agent, but the most important thing is to file right away to get money in your pocket faster.

You’re assigned a claim number, and an adjuster comes out to assess the damage. Once the claim has been accepted, you need to pay your deductible. After that, the insurance company sends out the payment.

Make Temporary Repairs

You aren’t expected to live with damage in your home until the adjuster arrives. For example, if you have a hole in your roof, it’s best to patch it up temporarily, so it doesn’t cause further damage to your home. Your insurance company would not cover further damage if there were a way to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Keep A Paper Trail

Throughout your home insurance claims process, you contact many different people. It’s essential to keep track of your meetings and phone calls, especially regarding who you spoke to and what was said.

Keep the receipts, including the materials for temporary repairs or living expenses if your home is inhabitable when you purchase items.

Gather Quotes Before Your Adjuster Arriving

It’s always best to get quotes on the cost of fixing damages before you meet with your adjuster. This way, you know how much things cost and understand the scope of the work necessary to make the repairs. In addition, by providing quotes to the insurer, you ensure your settlement is enough to cover repairs.

Tips For Filing a Home Insurance Claim

If you think your policy covers damage to your home, reach out to your insurance company to complete a home insurance claim. The process varies depending on your insurer, but typically you should do the following:

File a Police Report

If the damages to your home result from a burglary, you must file a police report. The same goes for filing a theft claim; your insurance company wants the police report to verify the details of the crime.

If your damages result from a natural disaster, then documenting the damage is your first step. Don’t throw out anything that’s ruined or damaged.

Start a Home Inventory List

Whether you’re filing a homeowners insurance claim or you might file one in the future, it’s always a good idea to inventory your home. If you have a list of your belongings, it helps the claims process move quickly. You should have a list of artwork, jewelry, electronics, furniture, and other valuables. Include detailed information such as purchase date, appraisal value, and photos. Keep the receipts of the items you have purchased for reference.

Home Insurance Claim FAQs

Is there a time limit for filing a home insurance claim?

You only have up to a year to file a homeowners insurance claim for your losses. The statute of limitations for personal property insurance claims depends on the state you live in and the insurance company you have.

Can I keep my home insurance claim money?

The payout is supposed to replace your belongings or repair damage to your home. However, you can keep any remaining funds after the repairs are complete unless your insurance company states to return unused funds.

Can you file a claim against someone else’s home insurance policy?

The only way to claim on another person’s home insurance policy is if you were injured or your property was damaged while on the property.

This would require the owner to provide their policy information and take responsibility for the loss. They would need to file the claim themselves, and you would have to provide proof of the claim.

Should I get a repair estimate before filing a home insurance claim?

You don’t need to get an estimate before you file a claim. However, you should get an estimate before your adjuster arrives so you can know the cost of your repairs. 

Does my home insurance claim history affect my rates?

When you file a homeowners insurance claim, it’s reported to CLUE. If you have made numerous claims on your home, you could be deemed high risk and have your insurance rates increased.

Home Insurance Claims: The Bottom Line

If you have any questions about filing a homeowners insurance claim, check out your policy or contact an agent. Before filing a claim, it’s important to consider the cost of the damage and any possible increase. If your insurance increases because of a claim, get new home insurance quotes to ensure you get the best possible rates.